June Cleaver Needs a Scholarship: 10 Scholarships for Military Spouses
by Karina Gafford
For Millennial military spouses, the Age of the "June Cleaver" Military Spouse is dead and gone. Organizations such as InGear Career, National Military Spouse Network, Blue Star Families, and Hiring Our Heroes are championing military spouse employment and helping them attain professional careers. The stay-at-home mommas are working, too! While an impressive blogging community of military spouse homemakers exist, know that while those spouses are indeed stay-at-home mommas, they are business women, too. Those sweet storytellers sharing their arts, crafts, recipes, and parenting tips are running veritable businesses from their home, and many of them earn the national average wage (approximately $45,000) or more, through writing, advertisements, product sales, and affiliate sales.
Most military spouses want to work. Work can provide a sense of purpose or a distraction from a deployment, but perhaps more importantly, it provides income. Almost 5,000 military families are eligible for food stamps, and 25 percent receive assistance from food programs, such as food pantries, according to Feeding America, a hunger relief charity.
The realities of a lifestyle attached to the military make it challenging to find either well-paid or sufficient work, though, as you can see from these statistics:
30 percent of military spouses are unemployed, according to the Institue for Veterans and Military Families
60 percent are under-employed, according to a study by the Military Officer's Association of America
Military spouses earn 38 percent less per paycheck than their civilian counterparts
Fortunately for military spouses, there exists a growing recognition of the importance of having dual-income military families. This is good news for military spouses! With continued cuts to military services from sequestration, to include the possibility of losing the commissary benefit and potentially increased health costs incurred on military families, they’re going to need the work opportunities.
One of the key recognitions of the needs of military spouses is the increase in scholarships and grants to help military spouses pursue their education. By investing in education, military spouses can improve their chances of obtaining a better paid career. The difference in earning potential between a high school education and a college degree are vast, and they’re continuing to grow, according to the Pew Research Foundation. Take a look at the difference that Millennial military spouses can expect to earn upon obtaining each degree:
High School Diploma: $28,000
Associates Degree: $30,000
College Degree: $45,000
As you can see, the differences are stark. It’s clear that an investment in your education will reap significant rewards in your professional career. The Pew Research Foundation emphasizes that the income discrepancy between those who have high school diplomas and those with college degrees are growing, as the earnings of those with college degrees continue to grow while the earnings of those with only a high school diploma continue to decline. So, let’s take a look at some of the scholarship opportunities available to military spouses.
1. National Military Family Association: Scholarships range from $500-$2,500 and cover spouses pursuing a wide range of educational options from certificates all the way up to PhDs. NMFA also administers scholarship programs for military spouses for partner programs. These include
b. Pentagon Berkshire and Hathaway Realty—this is to become a real estate agent
c. Webster University
d. Western Governor’s University
e. Central Texas College
f. The Major Group
2. Spouses’ Organizations: Many spouses’ organizations have scholarships for both military children and spouses. Typically, these require that spouses are enrolled in an undergraduate degree and live in the local area. Check with your local military spouses’ club, but here are a few examples to get you started:
a. MacDill Officer’s Spouses Club: This scholarship is for $1,000 and must be post-marked by March 20th.
b. Air Force Officer’s Spouses’ Organization of DC: Winners in 2014 won between $1,500 and $3,000 each.
c. Army Officers’ Wives’ Club of the Greater Washington Area: Must be post-marked by March 27th.
d. Ramstein Enlisted Spouses’ Association: Scholarships are offered for spouses and graduating seniors in the KMC area. Apply online.
3. Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA): This grant is for military spouses whose sponsors are E1-E5, W1-W2, or O1-O2. The grant provides $4,000, which can be applied to degrees or certificate programs that lead to portable careers.
4. The Daughters of the American Revolution: The DAR provides multiple scholarships ($1,000 to $20,000) to students showing dedication to the pursuit of degrees in diverse disciplines. These aren’t specific to military spouses, but many military spouses would be competitive for these awards.
5. Mom Corps You Military Spouse Scholarship: Provides a free membership to Mom Corps for training, coaching, and job assistance.
6. State Scholarships: Many states, including Alabama, Connecticut and Maryland, offer military spouse scholarships. Maryland, for example, offers the Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Conflict Scholarship. This scholarship is for residents of Maryland who are pursuing undergraduate degrees and whose spouse served in one of the two conflicts for 60 days or more.
7. The Army Spouse Education Assistance Program: This is for spouses pursuing an undergraduate degree. They may receive assistance for all four years of college.
8. Salute to Spouses. This scholarship is for $6,000 and is applicable toward a Bryant & Stratton College online degree.
9. Thanks USA: Needs-based scholarships for military spouses. They have given away almost $10 million since 2006!
10. Folds of Honor: For spouses who have been accepted to or are enrolled in either an undergraduate or vocational program. Make sure to read the eligibility, as these scholarships are limited in nature.
You can find additional educational grants, financial aid, and scholarships on Military One Source.
Make sure to ask at each of your institutions if scholarships or grants are available for military spouses. You might be surprised to hear how frequently they are offered!